CAIRO (Middle East Eye) – Egypt’s intelligence director has claimed the U.S. agreed to imprison Egyptian-American activist Mohamed Soltan after he was released from prison in Egypt in 2015, Politico reported.
In a visit to Washington last month, Abbas Kamel asked lawmakers why Soltan was “free and living in Virginia” when the U.S. had promised Egypt that he would serve the remainder of his life sentence in a U.S. prison.
Kamel gave congressional staffers a document appearing to be a signed agreement between Egyptian and American officials laying out such an arrangement.
The document, written in Arabic, appears to have been signed by an American embassy representative and a representative of “Interpol Cairo”.
It states that Soltan is to be sent to “his home country to resume his sentence under the oversight of the appropriate authorities”.
Soltan, an Ohio State University economics graduate, mediated between foreign media and protest leaders at Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya square in July 2013.
He was arrested shortly after the protests were violently stamped out and spent nearly two years in prison, 490 days of which he was on hunger strike. He told MEE in a previous interview that he lost a third of his body weight and nearly died 10 times.
His hunger strike gained worldwide attention, adding pressure on the U.S. government to secure his release.
He was ultimately released from an Egyptian prison in May 2015, stripped of his Egyptian citizenship and sent to the U.S.
Earlier this year, several members of Soltan’s family were arrested in Egypt, in apparent retaliation for his advocacy work.
The revelation of the letter comes as progressive members of Congress and rights groups are calling on U.S. President Joe Biden to withhold part of the aid money that is sent to Cairo each year.
Congress has been imposing human rights conditions on $300m of the $1.3bn military aid to Egypt, but previous administrations have issued national security waivers to bypass the restrictions.
In another development, Egypt’s parliament has passed a bill that allows authorities to dismiss employees affiliated with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and other ‘terrorist’ organizations from government positions.
The move follows a string of deadly rail accidents blamed on the MB, lawmakers said.
Public employees who have “failed to meet their duties as part of a bid to harm public services or the economic interests of the state” will be fired, the legislation said.
An Egyptian government source said in a statement that the law will be implemented within weeks.
The source added that the government is working to keep employees belonging to ‘terrorist’ organizations away from high-profile positions within the state after it was found that a clandestine group within the government was involved in schemes aimed at harming the state.